The main achievement and innovation of BRIDGE is based on the development of a Decision Support System (DSS) which reflects the multidimensional nature of the urban metabolism, as operationalised in comprehensive and transferable indicators easily understood by urban planners (end-users) and it has the potential to propose modifications on the metabolism of urban systems towards sustainability.
A DSS is a computer based information system that assists decision making processes by providing a structured presentation of alternatives and mechanisms for the comparative analysis, ranking, and selection among them. The problem with selecting options always is that options depend on the objectives that the end-user states. The objectives are usually conflicting, and therefore, the solution is a trade-off between them. The main function of the BRIDGE DSS is therefore to provide the tools for the evaluation of planning alternatives towards a sustainable city based on key urban metabolism components.
More specifically, the BRIDGE DSS integrates the bio-physical observations with socio-economic issues and allows end-users to evaluate several urban planning alternatives based on their initial identification of planning objectives. In this way, sustainable planning strategies will be proposed based on quantitative assessments of the urban metabolism components. More specifically, the fluxes of energy, water, carbon and pollutants are measured and modelled dynamically in a 3D context by using state-of-the-art numerical models. The outputs of these models lead to indicators which define the state of the urban environment and are incorporated into the DSS.
The most important processes, supported by the BRIDGE DSS, include:
· Storage, processing, and presentation of data required continuously, repeatedly or even once in relation with the specific problem.
· Presentation and user-transparent description of simple and complex relations between data inputs relevant to the decision process.
· Modelling and simulation of impacts deriving from desired, proposed and/or existing alternative solutions.
Urban planning is based on spatial processes which impose the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) in the DSS development. A GIS captures, stores, analyzes, manages, and presents data that is linked to a geographic location. The use of GIS allows for spatially-referenced data management and analysis, simulation and decision modelling, evaluation and presentation of the decisions that need to be made to ensure a sustainable future for the urban environment.